The Adelaide Review discovers some of the secrets to making great coffee from former State Barista Champion and Bar 9 owner Ian Callahan.
Speciality coffees houses have been popping up all over Adelaide recently. Why do you think this is?
South Australia is such a culinary state with amazing local produce and some of the best and most varied wine regions in the country. It was only a matter of time before people became more discerning with where they buy their coffee, and the rise in speciality coffee houses simply mirrors the public’s taste for great coffee
What makes Bar 9’s coffee different to others you will find around Adelaide?
Bar 9 is a true baristas café; by us, for us. It wasn’t about creating somewhere cool or hip, or inventing a new and clever fit out. The core of the business has always been about amazing specialty coffee; where it’s come from, what brewing method is best going to showcase it, and how we’re going to get other people as excited about the coffee as we are.
Can you explain how you became a barista and what made you want to pursue it is a career rather than a casual job?
Initially, it was simply the job I got into when I returned from an overseas trip. Then, wanting to do it to the best of my ability, I spent a lot of time researching, tasting and experimenting with coffee. This all culminated in 2008 when I became the State Barista Champion for SA. Since then many doorways opened and I met with and spoke to countless other passionate professionals who’ve all helped me to grow my career further through coffee.
You offer two blends on a day-to-day basis. Can you describe the differences between the Black Label and the Barista’s Blend?
Basically Black Label is crowd pleaser; it’s there to be enjoyed by all. The origin of beans that make up the Black Label change seasonally, however the flavour profile is pitched at being sweet and interesting, with a rounded syrupy body and great length. Barista’s Blend is basically what we the baristas are drinking. It’s usually a little more challenging or might have a flavour profile a little more out of the ordinary. It’s not there to please everyone but promises to be a new experience, and to hopefully open up people’s minds (or palates) to what great specialty coffee can be.
With your Brew Bar you offer the largest array of brewing methods available in one cafe in SA. What made you want to offer the different methods?
When we started serving filter-brewed coffee there wasn’t really anywhere in Adelaide you could buy it from. So there was no real trend to follow, or market to capitalise on. We basically started serving it because it’s what we were drinking and we thought it tasted amazing. It’s usually a lot cleaner, sweeter and softer than espresso, emphasising the coffee’s natural origin characteristics, so naturally it’s a great medium to showcase our really special coffees. These days we have a great following of loyal customers who love filter coffee (as opposed to espresso coffee) and it’s fantastic to see other specialty coffee houses serving up alternate brews as well.
What are some café/coffee pet hates you made sure had no place at Bar 9 when you opened?
Number one would have to be attitude. Nothing taints a coffee’s flavour as much as an arrogant barista. We’re learning new things about coffee every day, so there’s no use pretending to know it all. It keeps things constantly fresh and forever moving forward.
Bar 9 96 Glen Osmond Rd, Parkside